Ferrari and Red Bull were in a league of their own in Saturday’s delayed final practice in Baku with Sergio Perez quickest of all ahead of Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull driver laid down a 1:43.170 to beat the Monégasque driver by 0.070s.
Max Verstappen was third, the reigning World Champion having to back off on his first qualy sim due to red flags for Valtteri Bottas’ trip up an escape road.
The best-placed driver outside of Ferrari and Red Bull, Lando Norris, was 1.2s seconds down on Perez.
It's tight at the top! 🤏
— Autosport (@autosport) June 11, 2022
Saturday’s final practice got off to a delayed start, 15 minutes late, as the Tecpro barrier at Turn 1 needed repairs after a final-lap crash in the Formula 2 race saw three drivers pile into it.
Once underway Mercedes, who suffered with severe bouncing in Friday’s practices, was one of the first teams to venture out, the Brackley squad scrubbing in a set of hard tyres for Sunday’s race before heading back into the pits. That also gave the drivers the opportunity to see how the cars felt after the set-up changes made overnight.
But aside from a handful of laps from a few other drivers, that was it for the action in the first 10 minutes which went by without a single lap time completed.
George Russell was the first to make his mark with 1:47.256, however, his team-mate Lewis Hamilton backed off on his first lap with his head shaking as he suffered with serious porpoising. Russell, his car looking more settled, upped his pace but dropped to second as the Ferraris came out to play, Charles Leclerc quickest with Carlos Sainz P3.
Max Verstappen, his rear wing’s flexi problem from Friday “fixed”, was the last driver to venture out of the pits and straight out of the box went P2 behind his team-mate Sergio Perez while Pierre Gasly grabbed a tow from Lando Norris to jump up to fifth, and do so on the hard tyres.
Running used soft tyres, Leclerc went on a double cool down lap to grab P1 at the halfway mark with a 1:43.415 almost four-tenths up on Perez with Sainz third followed by Verstappen. Ferrari were by no means exempt from the bouncing but still seemed to be able to drag speed out of the car.
This was amusing at first but now it’s just silly, the FIA need to step in and consider what impact this is having on the drivers long term health.
There’s many studies into the damage of microconussions in NFLpic.twitter.com/1HDI5lLc7F
— EM11 – #FormulaFrauds (@EngineMode11) June 11, 2022
Putting in the traditional qualifying simulation in the second half of the session, Gasly and Russell were the first of the top ten to move onto shinning new red-walled tyres with Haas potentially wanting to practice a tow as they sent Mick Schumacher out directly ahead of Kevin Magnussen. Russell, despite complaining about rear grip, leapfrogged Gasly for fifth while Magnussen shot up from 16th to seventh.
Leclerc was the first of the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers to make the change, the championship hopeful upping his pace but it wasn’t enough to hold off Perez with his a 1:43.170. Yellow flags for Valtteri Bottas’ trip up an escape road thwarted Verstappen on his first attempt, the reigning World Champion having to back off before posting the third fastest time ahead of Sainz.
Verstappen did go purple in the final sector at the very end of the session only to have to slam brakes when he came up to the back of traffic in the form of Fernando Alonso.
Lando Norris was best of the rest in P5 but was a full second down on Perez with Daniel Ricciardo sixth ahead of Gasly and Russell.
1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:43.170 18 laps
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.070s 19
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.279s 14
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.426s 19
5 Lando Norris McLaren 1.248s 13
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.306s 19
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.321s 21
8 George Russell Mercedes 1.403s 17
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.515s 15
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.519s 18
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.672s 14
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.675s 19
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.709s 17
14 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1.743s 18
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.749s 17
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.794s 20
17 Alex Albon Williams 2.309s 17
18 Mick Schumacher Haas 2.362s 19
19 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 2.404s 17
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.900s 17